By Jason Pribila: Junior welterweights Emanuel Taylor (17-1, 12KOs) and Victor Cayo (31-4, 22KOs) found themselves under the hot lights of ESPN2 being interrogated in front of a national television audience. Taylor was being asked if he could build off his January upset victory over Raymond Serrano, and later would he be able to do so after being dropped a right hand. Cayo would be asked if he could use his ring savvy to hold off a stronger more physical foe. After eight spirited rounds it was Taylor who was able to respond positively.
The main event of a card held at the Resorts Casino in Atlantic City was a display of behavioral science. Taylor behaved like the bigger and stronger fighter when he moved forward against Cayo behind his high guard. Cayo responded by throwing and landing looping wide shots around Taylor’s defense. Soon Taylor realized that he could throw and land punches inside of those being flung by his foe. A straight right started a flurry at the end of the second round, and a left hook left Cayo wobbled.
Cayo then began to behave like a fighter who needed to adjust in order to survive. He would confuse Taylor by fighting out of an orthodox stance. Cayo threw a counter right that stopped Taylor in his tracks. He later threw a lead right from the same angle that dropped Taylor.
Suddenly it was Taylor who had to do some soul searching of his own. Was this step up on competition too big of a leap too soon after his upset of Serrano in January? Rather than shrinking under the lights, Taylor again began to behave like the stronger fighter. He remembered that it was his opponent who had been stopped in his three previous defeats and again began to walk Cayo down.
In the eighth round Cayo ran out of real estate and found he was no longer able to hold off the stronger man. He repeated the behavior that he had displayed against Lamont Peterson, Marcos Maidana, and Nate Campbell and he wilted under the heat of the bright lights. Cayo went down at the hands of a Taylor flurry. He pulled himself up along the ropes but the fight had been waved off.
Taylor now has two nice wins thus far in 2013, and the lessons learned this evening will only serve to prepare him for the bigger challenges ahead. Cayo again proved that he could only be successful against fighters at a certain level, and he may find himself in the role of gate-keeper moving forward.
In the televised opener undefeated heavyweight Magomed Abdusalamov (17-0, 17KO)showed off his power and a whole lot of flaws en route to a TKO victory over an out of shape Victor Bisbal (21-2, 15KO). In a few weeks “Mago” will turn 32 and he had an extensive amateur background in Russia which is why I was surprised that he looked so unpolished. He had disposed of all of his previous opponents in less than four rounds, so he could be forgiven if he has fallen love with his power. However, when his wild misses leave him stumbling off balance it will only be a matter of time until his chin gets checked.
Bisbal was doing well for himself early, but by coming in at a soft 245lbs. he did not give himself the best chance to win leading up to the fight. For two rounds he kept “Mago” off balance by doubling up his jab and slipping in his right hand, and he used just enough movement to stay out of harm’s way. He was in position to take “Mago” into deep waters, but he was not in condition to do so.
Midway through the third round Bisbal’s legs started to betray him, and “Mago” began to find a home with his left hand. At the end of the fourth a booming left hand forced Bisbal to hang on.
“Mago” entered the fifth round for the first time in his career and he was determined not to make it a long visit. There was no longer a jab between him and Bisbal’s chin. A straight left caused Bisbal’s legs to split and a second sent him to the canvas. An exhausted and dazed Bisbal beat the count, but he was in no condition to continue. Referee Randy Neumann waved the bout off at the 1:12 mark.
Hopefully for the heavyweight division Abdusalamov reviews the film and is able to make adjustments moving forward. If he continues to fight like he did this evening he will find that his ceiling is not much higher.
Jason Pribila is a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and he could be reached for questions and comments at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter @PribsBoxing